Year-End Awards: Heavyweight, 2014

Welcome to my 3rd Annual Year-End Awards and Wrap-Up.  First, a list of awards for the division.  Then, a look at the 20 fighters that did the best work in 2012 specifically, followed by a rundown of the year’s rankings history.  Dig in!

 

Heavyweight Fighter of the Year: Wladimir Klitschko
Technically Glazkov beat a higher-ranked fighter (and Mansour should have), but #5 Pulev was probably more of a live body subjectively than were #4 Adamek and #4 Cunningham. Klitschko not only defended his Championship, but also his Heavyweight Fighter of the Year title, by being the only fighter to go undefeated on the year while beating two top 20 fighters- adding #16 Alex Leapai to clinch.

 

Prospect of the Year: Deontay Wilder
The winner of this award is the fighter to do the most during the year who has never been ranked in the top 10 and has fewer than 3 losses in his career.  Wilder was the narrow runner up to Mike Perez for the award last year, but Perez didn’t manage to keep his momentum going, while Wilder has yet to find the ceiling of his talent.  He earned the nod this year with his embarrassingly easy 1st-round KO of #19 Malik Scott, who is probably the runner-up despite the loss.

 

Most Important Knockout of the Year: Wladimir Klitschko KO5 Kubrat Pulev
This award goes to the fighter who knocks out the highest-ranked opponent to get stopped during the year.  The best unfortunate contender blasted out of the ring this year was #5 Pulev, who fought more aggressively than most Klitschko challengers, but paid a heavy price, though it was actually during a brief lull in his own activity that he caught a mean left hook from the Champ that he seemed completely unprepared for.

 

Most Sensational Knockout of the Year: Alexander Povetkin KO10 Carlos Takam
This is one award where the video is going to say a lot more than I can.  Takam had been doing well in the fight, to the point that I had it even going into the 10th, though Povetkin’s conditioning had led him back from well behind.  Povetkin caught his tired opponent with a short left hook in an exchange that left his man sprawling and glassy-eyed on his back.  The runner-up would probably be Klitschko-Pulev.  And for those of you who are crying out for Mansour-Kassi, please note that to be considered for this award, the victim has to be a top 50 fighter.  Kassi was nowhere near that.

 

Match-Up of the Year: Champ Wladimir Klitschko vs. #5 Kubrat Pulev
This is a simple recognition of the fight between the two fighters whose combined rank totaled the lowest number.  Klitschko didn’t quite match the level he reached last year with #3 Povetkin, but he had a solid year with solid defenses, as opposed to the abysmal competition he fought in 2013.  With an average rank of 2.5 (Champ’s rank is figured at 0), this was the clear winner.  Runner-up was Fury-Chisora II, with an average of 3.5.

 

Fight of the Year: #4 Steve Cunningham Robbery UD10 W vs. Amir Mansour
This is perhaps my most subjective award.  In choosing the winner, I attempt to balance importance, exciting action, and competitiveness.  There were a lot of good candidates this year, but none could match the high drama of Cunningham-Mansour.  Cunningham’s ridiculous display of guts after being twice dropped and nearly stopped in the 5th overshadowed the vicious display of power Mansour showed to put him in that position, and (unfortunately) won over the judges and TV commentators, whose cards not only indefensibly gave the fight to Cunningham, but did so by comfortable margins.  He came back well and even capped it off with a knockdown in the 10th, but Mansour by all rights had built up too big a lead and deserved the nod.  But that doesn’t change the fact that it was a great fight.  Runner-up was probably Stiverne-Arreola II.

 

Upset of the Year: Sergei Liakhovich vs. #17 Andy Ruiz
You might think this is a stretch, since the ranked fighter actually technically won.  But as always, I go by my own scores.  Liakhovich earned a draw on my card, or more accurately, Ruiz allowed the draw.  He had every bit the case for victory as did Ruiz, and the machinations of biased judges don’t change the fact that the ranked Ruiz embarrassed himself with exceptionally poor conditioning and effort, and lost his top 20 spot as a result.  All to a guy who not only hadn’t been remotely relevant or good in years, but who also didn’t exactly dazzle in the fight himself.  If you disagree with my call, I offer an even clearer scoring debacle in Musafarov-Boytsov as another contender, as well as both of Adamek’s losses as backup options.

 

Comeback Fighter of the Year: Antonio Tarver
This was a pretty easy call.  After drawing with the apparently mediocre Lateef Kayode at cruiserweight in the middle of 2012 and the disgrace and suspension that resulted from his apparent need for steroids to even manage that result, you couldn’t help but assume the then-43 year-old Tarver was done as a player in any division.  But out of nowhere, and having fought just one inconsequential opponent in 2.5 years, Tarver dominated and stopped a guy at top 20 level in a heavyweight division he’d barely visited before.  The resurgence is remarkable, especially considering he appears to be a better heavyweight at 46 than he was a cruiserweight at 43.  Maybe not even the worse for wear as compared to where he was at as a 175-pounder in 2009, though obviously a prime Chad Dawson was a much stiffer challenge pound-for-pound than today’s Johnathon Banks.

 

Robbery of the Year: Denis Boytsov W (UD10) vs. Timur Musafarov
Sadly, there were several solid candidates this year, including the aforementioned Cunningham-Mansour, Perez-Takam, and Ruiz-Liakhovich, to name a few.  This one takes the cake, though.  Musafarov was a clear winner, having earned a 97-92 nod on my card.  I could see it as close at 95-94 if I really wanted to, but that was even after the equally awful referee Joerg Milke blatantly stole an undeserved point from Musafarov in the 7th for having his head a little too low for Milke’s liking.  Or for being a good bet to win a decision at that point.  Take your pick.  Boytsov didn’t even come close to winning a round after the 6th of 10.  Yet the famous German robbery machine had it thusly: 95-94 (Ingo Barrabas), 97-93 (Norbert Duernberger), and a truly despicable 98-91 (Alexander Plumanns), all for the clear loser.  Not that Duernberger’s wasn’t truly despicable, but Plumanns put in that extra effort, and deserves recognition for it.

 

Now, for anyone that cares, I will rank the division based solely on the fighters’ 2014 accomplishments.  I will use the same criteria that I use to rank them overall (with victories, draws, or should-be victories and draws over top 50 opposition making one eligible), but will completely ignore all fights prior to 2014. 

 

1) Wladimir Klitschko
Significant Results: Apr 26- TKO5 #16 Alex Leapai.  Nov 15- KO5 #5 Kubrat Pulev.
2014 Rankings History: Jan 1- Dec 31: Champion
2) Vyacheslav Glazkov
Significant Results: Mar 15- UD12 #4 Tomasz Adamek.
2014 Rankings History: Jan 1- Feb 16: #18. Feb 17- Mar 9: #19. Mar 10-16: #18. Mar 17- Jun 1: #2. Jun 2- Dec 31: #3.
3) Amir Mansour
Significant Results: Apr 4- Robbery L (UD10) vs. #4 Steve Cunningham
2014 Rankings History: Jan 1- Apr 6: Unranked. Apr 7- Dec 31: #4.
4) Alexander Povetkin
Significant Results: May 30- KO7 Prospect Manuel Charr.  Oct 24- KO10 #7 Carlos Takam.
2014 Rankings History: Jan 1- Feb 16: #1. Feb 17- Mar 16: #2. Mar 17- Jun 1: #3. Jun 2- Dec 31: #2.
5) Tyson Fury
Significant Results: Nov 29- RTD 10 #6 Dereck Chisora.
2014 Rankings History: Jan 1- Feb 16: Unranked (Retired). Feb 17- Dec 31: #1.
6) Carlos Takam
Significant Results: Jan 18- Robbery Draw (W) vs. #11 Mike Perez. Jun 6- UD12 #9 Tony Thompson. Oct 24- L (KO10) vs. #2 Alexander Povetkin.
2014 Rankings History: Jan 1-19: Unranked. Jan 20- Feb 16: #7. Feb 17- Mar 16: #8. Mar 17-23: #9. Mar 24- Apr 6: #10. Apr 7- May 11: #11.  May 12- Jun 8: #12. Jun 9- Nov 30: #7. Dec 1-31: #6.
7) Bermane Stiverne
Significant Results: May 10- TKO 6 #13 Chris Arreola.
2014 Rankings History: Jan 1-19: #7. Jan 20- Feb 16: #8. Feb 17- Mar 16: #9. Mar 17-23: #10. Mar 24- Apr 6: #11. Apr 7- May 11: #12. May 12- Jun 8: #7. Jun 9- Dec 31: #8.
8) Tony Thompson
Significant Results: Mar 22- Wrong W (SD12) vs. #8 Odlanier Solis. Jun 6- L (UD12) vs. #12 Carlos Takam.
2014 Rankings History: Jan 1-19: #9.  Jan 20- Feb 16: #10.  Feb 17- Mar 16: #11.  Mar 17-23: #13.  Mar 24- Apr 6: #7.  Apr 7- May 11: #8.  May 12- Jun 8: #9.  Jun 9- Dec 31: #10.
9) Deontay Wilder
Significant Results: Mar 15- KO1 #19 Malik Scott.
2014 Rankings History: Jan 1- Feb 16: #12.  Feb 17- Mar 16: #13.  Mar 17-23: #12.  Mar 24- Apr 6 #13.  Apr 7- May 11: #14.  May 12- Nov 9: #13.  Nov 10- Dec 31: #12.
10) Odlanier Solis
Significant Results: Mar 22- Wrong L (SD12) vs. #13 Tony Thompson.
2014 Rankings History: Jan 1- Feb 16: #6.  Feb 17- Mar 16: #7.  Mar 17-23: #8.  Mar 24- Apr 6: #9.  Apr 7- May 11: #10.  May 12- Jun 8: #11.  Jun 9- Nov 9: #12.  Nov 10- Dec 31: #11.
11) Antonio Tarver
Significant Results: Dec 11- TKO7 Inactive Fringe Contender Johnathon Banks.
2014 Rankings History: Jan 1- Dec 14: Unranked.  Dec 15-31: #16.
12) Malik Scott
Significant Results: Mar 15- L (KO1) vs. #13 Deontay Wilder.  Oct 31- UD10 #16 Alex Leapai.
2014 Rankings History: Jan 1- Feb 16: #19.  Feb 17- Mar 9: #20.  Mar 10-16: #19.  Mar 17-23: Unranked.  Mar 24-30: #20.  Mar 31- Jun 22: Unranked.  Jun 23- Jul 27: #20.  Jul 28- Sep 7: Unranked.  Sep 8- Nov 2: #20.  Nov 3-9: #15.  Nov 10- Dec 31: #14.
13) Bryant Jennings
Significant Results: Jan 25- TKO10 Undefeated Prospect Artur Szpilka.  Jul 26- Wrong W (SD12) vs. Fringe Contender/Prospect Mike Perez.
2014 Rankings History: Jan 1- Jul 27: Unranked.  Jul 28- Sep 7: #19.  Sep 8- Nov 9: #18.  Nov 10- Dec 14: #17.  Dec 15-21: #18.  Dec 22-31: #17.
14) Artur Szpilka
Significant Results: Jan 25- L (TKO10) vs. Undefeated Prospect Bryant Jennings.  Nov 8- UD10 #11 Tomasz Adamek.
2014 Rankings History: Jan 1- Nov 9: Unranked.  Nov 10-Dec 14: #18.  Dec 15-21: #19.  Dec 22-31: #18.
15) Sergei Liakhovich
Significant Results: Dec 20- Wrong L (UD10) vs. #17 Andy Ruiz.
2014 Rankings History: Jan 1- Dec 31: Unranked.
16) Mike Perez
Significant Results: Jan 18- Robbery Draw (Loss) vs. Prospect Carlos Takam.  Jul 26- Wrong L (SD12) vs. Undefeated Prospect Bryant Jennings.
2014 Rankings History: Jan 1-19: #11.  Jan 20- Jul 27: Unranked.  Jul 28- Sep 7: #20.  Sep 8- Dec 14: #19.  Dec 15-21: #20.  Dec 22-31: #19.
17) Ruslan Chagaev
Significant Results: Jul 6- Wrong MD12 W (Draw) vs. Gatekeeper Fres Oquendo.
2014 Rankings History: Jan 1- Dec 31: Unranked.
18) Fres Oquendo
Significant Results: Jul 6- Wrong MD12 L (Draw) vs. Fringe Contender Ruslan Chagaev.
2014 Rankings History: Jan 1- Dec 31: Unranked.
19) Anthony Joshua
Significant Results: Oct 11- TKO2 Gatekeeper Denis Bakhtov.  Nov 22- TKO1 Gatekeeper Michael Sprott.
2014 Rankings History: Jan 1- Dec 31: Unranked.
20) Kali Meehan
Significant Results: Jun 4- KO1 Fringe Contender Michael Sprott
2014 Rankings History: Jan 1- Dec 31: Unranked.

 

Other fighters ranked during the year are detailed below.  These guys, while members of the top 20 at some point, didn’t exactly have a top-20 quality 2014 for varying reasons.

 

Steve Cunningham: Jan 1- Feb 16: #2.  Feb 17- Mar 16: #3.  Mar 17- Apr 6: #4.  Apr 7- May 11: #7.  May 12- Jun 8: #8.  Jun 9- Dec 31: #9.

 

Tomasz Adamek: Jan 1- Feb 16: #3.  Feb 17- Mar 16: #4.  Mar 17-23: #7.  Mar 24- Apr 6: #8.  Apr 7- May 11: #9.  May 12- Jun 8: #10.  Jun 9- Nov 9: #11.  Nov 10- Dec 31: Unranked.

 

Kubrat Pulev– Jan 1- Feb 16: #4.  Feb 17- Dec 31: #5.

 

Dereck Chisora: Jan 1- Feb 16: #5.  Feb 17- Nov 30: #6.  Dec 1-31: #7.

 

Chris Arreola: Jan 1-19: #8.  Jan 20- Feb 16: #9.  Feb 17- Mar 16: #10.  Mar 17-23: #11.  Mar 24- Apr 6: #12.  Apr 7- May 11: #13.  May 12- Nov 9: #14.  Nov 10- Dec 31: #13.

 

Erkan Teper: Jan 1-19: #10.  Jan 20- Feb 16: #11.  Feb 17- Mar 16: #12.  Mar 17- Apr 6: #14.  Apr 7- Nov 2: #15.  Nov 3-9: #16.  Nov 10- Dec 31: #15.

 

Alex Leapai: Jan 1- Feb 16: #13.  Feb 17- Mar 16: #14.  Mar 17- Apr 6: #15.  Apr 7- Nov 2: #16.  Nov 3- Dec 14: #20.  Dec 15-21: Unranked.  Dec 22-31: #20.

 

Robert Helenius– Jan 1- Feb 16: #14.  Feb 17- Mar 16: #15.  Mar 17-23: #16.  Mar 24- Dec 31: Unranked (Inactive).

 

Andy Ruiz– Jan 1- Feb 16: #15.  Feb 17- Mar 16: #16.  Mar 17-23: #17.  Mar 24- Apr 6: #16.  Apr 7- Nov 9: #17.  Nov 10- Dec 14: #16.  Dec 15-21: #17.  Dec 22-31: Unranked.

 

Seth Mitchell– Jan 1- Feb 16: #16.  Feb 17- Mar 16: #17.  Mar 17-23: #18.  Mar 24- Apr 6: #17.  Apr 7- Sep 7: #18.  Sep 8- Dec 31: Unranked (Inactive).

 

Alexander Dimitrenko: Jan 1- Feb 16: #17.  Feb 17- Mar 9: #18.  Mar 10- Dec 31: Unranked (Inactive). 

 

Johnathon Banks: Jan 1- Feb 16: #20.  Feb 17- Mar 9: Unranked.  Mar 10-16: #20.  Mar 17-23: #19.  Mar 24- Apr 6: #18.  Apr 7- Jun 22: #19.  Jun 23- Dec 31: Unranked (Inactive).

 

Francesco Pianeta: Jan 1- Mar 16: Unranked.  Mar 17-23: #20.  Mar 24- Apr 6: #19.  Apr 7- Jun 22: #20.  Jun 23- Jul 27: #19.  Jul 28- Dec 31: Unranked.

 

Eddie Chambers– Jan 1- Mar 30: Unranked.  Mar 31- Apr 6: #20.  Apr 7- Dec 31: Unranked.
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